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Weekend Sports In Brief

June 14, 2021 GMT

NBA

DENVER (AP) — The Phoenix Suns roared into the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 11 years with a testy 125-118 victory over Denver on Sunday night that completed a four-game sweep.

Chris Paul scored 37 points and Devin Booker added 34 in a physical game marred by MVP Nikola Jokic’s ejection for a flagrant foul in the third quarter.

Jokic was tossed with 3:52 left in the third quarter and his Nuggets trailing 83-76 after his hard right-hand windmill swipe sent the ball flying but also caught Cameron Payne in the face. Jokic said he meant only to commit a hard foul on Payne.

Booker took umbrage at the hard foul and got in the big man’s face before teammates and coaches pulled everyone apart.

Officials assessed a double technical on Jokic and Booker and ejected the MVP after upping the call to a Flagrant 2. Jokic finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes.

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The Nuggets and their fans at Ball Arena were frustrated that they were getting called for ticky-tack fouls yet Jokic wasn’t getting the calls expected of a Most Valuable Player.

NHL

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Semyon Varlamov made 30 saves and the New York Islanders got goals from Mathew Barzal and Ryan Pulock to beat the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 on Sunday in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup semifinals.

Varlamov won his fourth straight playoff start, joining teammate Ilya Sorokin as only the third pair of goaltenders from the same team to have personal winning streaks of at least four games in a single postseason.

Barzal opened the scoring when he took a pass from Josh Bailey and skated in just ahead of pursuing defender Jan Rutta to slip the puck through Andrei Vasilevskiy’s pads at 12:32 of the second period.

Pulock sent a shot past the Vezina Trophy finalist from just inside the blue line for a two-goal lead at 5:36 of the third.

The Islanders helped themselves by staying out the penalty box for most the afternoon, limiting the Lightning to just two power-play opportunities — the last coming with 1:38 remaining and producing Tampa Bay’s only goal.

TENNIS

PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic came all the way back after dropping the first two sets to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (6), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the French Open final Sunday for his 19th Grand Slam title.

Djokovic’s second trophy at Roland Garros moves him one major championship away from tying the men’s record of 20 shared by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. It also puts reigning Australian Open champion Djokovic halfway to a calendar-year Grand Slam, something no man has accomplished since Rod Laver in 1969.

The 34-year-old Djokovic eliminated 13-time French Open champion Nadal in a semifinal that lasted more than four hours Friday night. That might be why the 22-year-old Tsitsipas had the upper hand early, and Djokovic looked drained for two sets.

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The International Tennis Federation said Djokovic — who trailed 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti two sets to none in the fourth round — is the first man in the professional era to win a Grand Slam tournament after twice facing a 2-0 deficit in sets.

PARIS (AP) — Unseeded Barbora Krejcikova won her first Grand Slam title by beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in the French Open final Saturday.

This was only the fifth major tournament in singles for Krejcikova, a 25-year-old from the Czech Republic. She is the third unseeded women’s champion in the last five years at Roland Garros.

The 31st-seeded Pavlyuchenkova was playing in her first Grand Slam final in the 52nd major tournament of her career. She was treated for a left leg injury late in the second set Saturday.

This was only the second WTA singles title for Krejcikova, but they have come in her past two tournaments. She won the trophy on clay at Strasbourg, France, last month and is now on a 12-match winning streak.

On Sunday, Krejcikova and fellow Cezch player Katerina Siniakova won the doubles final 6-4, 6-2 against Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States and Iga Swiatek of Poland. Krejcikova became the first woman since Mary Pierce in 2000 to complete the singles-doubles titles sweep at Roland Garros.

GOLF

RIDGELAND, S.C. (AP) — Garrick Higgo won the Palmetto Championship at Congaree for his first PGA Tour victory Sunday when leader Chesson Hadley blew a two-shot lead with bogeys on his final three holes.

Higgo, the 22-year-old left-hander from South Africa, shot a 3-under 68 and finished at 11 under in his second career tour event. Get ready to see more of him. The victory, along with $1,314,000, gives him PGA Tour status through the 2023 season.

It was a heartbreaking finish for Hadley, seemingly in control at 13 under with three holes to play. But he drove into a waste area on the 16th and could not get up and down after missing the 17th and 18th greens to give away victory.

Hadley finished with a 75 after opening 65-66-68. He fell into a tie for second at 10 under with Hudson Swafford (66), Doc Redman (67), Jhonattan Vegas (67), Tyrrell Hatton (68) and Bo Van Pelt (68).

DALY CITY, Calif. (AP) — Matilda Castren became the first Finnish winner in LPGA Tour history in the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, pulling away on the front-nine at foggy Lake Merced and holding off Min Lee by two strokes.

Two strokes behind Lee entering the final day of the tour’s two-week run on the San Francisco Peninsula, Castren birdied the first three holes, eagled the par-5 fifth and birdied the par-5 ninth for a front-nine 30.

Castern followed with eight straight pars and holed a 3-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th for a 7-under 65. The 26-year-old former Florida State player finished at 14-under 274 after tying for 30th last week in the U.S. Women’s Open at nearby Olympic Club.

Lee finished with a 69. She cut Castren’s lead to one with a birdie on the par-5 15th, but dropped a stroke with a two-putt bogey on the par-3 17th.

Hannah Green (66) and So Yeon Ryu (67) tied for third at 8 under.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Jerry Kelly successfully defended his title in his hometown American Insurance Championship, closing with a 6-under 66 for a one-stroke victory over Fred Couples and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

The 54-year-old Kelly finished at 14-under 202 at University Ridge for his eighth PGA Tour Champions victory.

Couples bogeyed the par-5 18th for a 68. The 61-year-old Couples won the 2017 tournament for the last of his 13 senior titles.

Jimenez, the leader after each of the first two rounds, shot a 69.

AUTO RACING

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Kyle Larson was back in the NASCAR All-Star race, and got another $1 million by winning it again.

Larson held off a hard-charging Brad Keselowski during the final 10-lap shootout at Texas on Sunday night, after a slippery three-wide pass for the lead, and pushed Hendrick Motorsports to its second consecutive win, and 10th overall, in the annual non-points race with a seven-figure prize.

Defending All-Star winner and reigning Cup champion Chase Elliott, who started the sixth and final segment of the 100-lap race out front, didn’t stay there long.

Larson pushed his teammate, then got in front on the outside through the fourth turn. They were three-wide before Keselowski pulled ahead briefly at the line, then Larson got ahead to stay for the last eight laps.

Larson has gone to Victory Lane three weekends in a row, and four times overall this season.